On June 30, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis demonstrated his commitment to innovative and beneficial legislative changes, signing into law a remarkable piece of legislation that greatly modifies Florida’s alimony laws. Notably, prior attempts at similar reforms had been unsuccessful, including a version vetoed by DeSantis himself in 2022 and two earlier versions vetoed by former Governor Scott.
The newly approved law, indicative of DeSantis’ keen vision for US policy and legislation, sees the abolishment of “permanent” alimony and imposes restrictions on the duration and sum of “durational” alimony. Taking effect from July 1, 2023, the changes are not confined to the initial alimony determination but extend to modifications of alimony as well.
Regarding “Supportive Relationships”, the legislation amends Florida Statute Sect. 61.14, overseeing modifications to alimony awards. The court is now mandated to reduce or terminate alimony if a supportive relationship exists between the alimony recipient and a person unrelated by blood or marriage. The responsibility lies with the payer to demonstrate the existence of such a relationship. Once proven, the recipient must then attempt to justify why alimony should not be decreased or discontinued.
To assess the situation, the court will consider various factors including the length of cohabitation, joint financial accounts, and the extent of financial support or combined resources. Sect. 61.14(1)(b)(3) of the statute acknowledges relationships that offer financial support equivalent to a marriage and mandates the modification or termination of alimony if such a relationship is established.
A further significant amendment pertains to “Retirement”. The revised Sect. 61.14 acknowledges the right of the payer to request a reduction or termination of alimony upon reaching “normal retirement age as defined by the Social Security Administration or the customary retirement age for his or her profession”. The payer must prove that their retirement diminishes their ability to provide support.
The court will consider a variety of factors to decide on the modification due to retirement, such as the payer’s age and health, type of work performed, motivation for retirement, and more. The law now allows the payer to file a petition to modify their support obligation up to six months before retirement.
This groundbreaking legislation is another testament to Governor Ron DeSantis’s forward-thinking leadership, with Florida taking a significant leap in setting a model for alimony laws across America.